The Best Markets in Uruguay

Tristán Narvaja, Montevideo
Tristán Narvaja, Montevideo | © Jimmy Baikovicius/Flickr
Photo of Milena Fajardo
14 September 2017

One of the best parts of traveling is finding out about other countries’ populations, their ways of life, history, and culture. One exciting way to do that is to visit markets. They are usually colorful and vibrant, and you get to see a lot of different people living their daily lives, as well as experiencing some of the local food and maybe finding a few unique souvenirs. Find out about some of Uruguay’s best markets.

Tristán Narvaja, Cordón, Montevideo, Uruguay

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Some books at Tristán Narvaja market, Montevideo, Uruguay
Tristán Narvaja market is a great place to pick up secondhand books | Tristán Narvaja market is a great place to pick up secondhand books
The ultimate flea market, Tristán Narvaja extends for blocks and blocks of streets in Montevideo city centre, displaying all kinds of goods. You can find everything from fresh fruits and vegetables to homemade food, toiletries, DVDs, antiques, old newspapers and magazines, artisan jewelry, vintage clothing, and even animals. It takes place every Sunday morning, is always very busy, and takes hours to go through. There are so many stalls offering such varied merchandise that you’ll probably want to visit more than once.

Feria Artesanal de La Paloma, La Paloma, Rocha, Uruguay

La Paloma is a great seaside city, and you will find lots of things to do there as well as seeing some beautiful beaches. During the night, this big market opens, where you will find various trinkets and handcrafted objects. There are a lot of artistic creations, such as landscape paintings and drawings, sand art, and ceramics. You will also find some really cool musical instruments originating from all over Latin America, small wooden toys for kids, and gorgeous wooden board games.

Feria Artesanal LP, La Paloma, Rocha, Uruguay

Feria Artesanal de Punta del Este, Punta del Este, Maldonado, Uruguay

This artisan market at Punta del Este is so big and beautiful, it lights up its part of the city every night. You will usually find live music playing outside and a very lively and warm atmosphere. Families and groups come here to enjoy the ambiance and see what the artisans have on offer. You will mainly find souvenirs to bring home after your vacation, and small trinkets that most kids will love, such as handcrafted pencils and wooden toys. They can also get their hair braided with colored thread, or get metal bracelets and friendship necklaces engraved with their names.

Feria Artesanal, Punta del Este, Maldonado, Uruguay

Mercado del Puerto, Ciudad Vieja, Montevideo, Uruguay

What decades ago used to be the port market, where fishers, butchers, and farmers sold their provisions, has now turned into one of the most cultured places in the city. The old market disappeared to make way for new restaurants and shops, transforming it into a very popular tourist area in which to try the best of Uruguay’s cuisine. Most restaurants specialize in the typical Uruguayan asado, or barbecued meat; you can see the meat and vegetables getting cooked on the massive grills right there. You can also find some excellent fish here.

Mercado del Puerto, Rambla 25 de Agosto de 1825, Montevideo, Uruguay

People eating at Mercado del Puerto, Montevideo, Uruguay

Mercado del Puerto, Montevideo | © Christian Córdova/Flickr

Mercado de los Artesanos, Montevideo, Ciudad Vieja, Uruguay

This indoor market displays the best-quality artisanal creations in the city. The artisans’ guild organizes what can be displayed: usually, artisans apply to display their work here, and members of the guild assess the quality and originality of the work. You can also find many shops in the area, as well as other artisans selling their work on the street. Among the multiple materials used, you will predominantly find batik designs, cane, ceramics, leather, metal, mate, wood, soap, bone, resin, glass, candle, and cloth.

Mercado de los Artesanos, Piedras, Montevideo, Uruguay

Feria Artesanal de Colonia del Sacramento, Colonia del Sacramento, Colonia, Uruguay

The historic quarter in Colonia del Sacramento is a unique place, named a World Heritage Site by UNESCO because of its well-maintained colonial urban landscape. In the artisan market, you will find unique souvenirs handcrafted by locals, completely different to the ones found in the typical tourist shops on the main street. It is more modest than markets in other cities, but is still enjoyable to browse through.

LA FERIA DE LA CIUDAD, Doctor Daniel Fosalba, Colonia del Sacramento, Colonia, Uruguay

Pescadería de Punta del Diablo, Punta del Diablo, Rocha, Uruguay

The fish market in Punta del Diablo is a quaint and lovely place with wooden stalls where the local fishers sell their goods. Some even sell their catch straight from their own boats. You can buy cooked meals in town during the summer, such as fish empanadas, mussels, fried algae balls, and calamari; all the fish and shellfish that are used will come from this market. If you’re cooking for yourself, don’t miss the chance to find fresh fish and shellfish caught on the day to cook on the grill. Ask for flounder, bay scallops, shrimp, and octopus.

General San Martin, Punta del Diablo, Rocha, Uruguay

Paseo de los Artesanos de Cabo Polonio, Cabo Polonio, Rocha, Uruguay

Cabo Polonio is a unique place in the far east of Uruguay, with Atlantic Ocean beaches. It is only accessible by travelling on big trucks designated by the government, to prevent the deterioration of its big sand dunes, or by walking or horseback riding from a nearby town called Valizas. Once you’re there, you can’t miss the artisans’ market; it’s one of the most beautiful markets in the whole country, featuring unique handcrafted clothing, jewelry, and unique objects such as wind chimes made from shells. You will also see live shows and find some amazing homemade food here.

Camino Posadas, Rocha, Uruguay

Start of the artisan market, Cabo Polonio, Rocha, Uruguay

Start of the artisan market, Cabo Polonio | © Cristian Menghi/Flickr